The Final Focus, Public Forum’s 2AR/2NR, is an often poorly-executed speech— yet, as the ‘tip of the spear’ and as each debate round’s final speech, it’s of crucial importance to taking the ballot.
The speech begins with your collapse, or picking your best line of offense. With your best offense in hand, you then do comparative analysis (or weighing) of your impacts vs your opponents’ impacts.
So: collapse & weighing are the crucial jobs, but you also will need to extend defense— your rebuttals against your opponents’ main arguments— and your own warrants— explanations of why your arguments do what you say they do.
So, the jobs of extending offense and defense, collapse, and weighing are all crucial, but can you bring all these pieces together under a structure that makes sense, emphasizes narrative, and is appealing and simple for judges?
Here’s the 4 most-common models for Final Focus. All can be used to great effect in different debate rounds, and a well-rounded debater should be able to employ them all when needed.
Model 1: Down the Flow
This model works great for beginners. It emphasizes complete answers, good flow, and not letting anything escape your grasp.
You can split this speech roughly into two halves. In the first, you go down your flow on the opponents' case, extending your defense against their remaining arguments, systematically removing their offense piece by piece.
Then, the next half can be spent on your own case, extending your collapse and explaining the impacts and implications. After each impact, weigh against the opponents’ offense: ‘even if you do buy their Economy argument, prefer our Education argument on timeframe...'
Model 2: Two Worlds
Two Worlds is a common model, the more narrative version of down-the-flow.
Like with Model 1, you’ll split the speech into two parts— their world (a truly awful place) and your world (a wonderful place). This model allows for more emotional and story appeal than the first model.
Similarly, incorporate weighing on probability, timeframe and magnitude throughout the two worlds. Similarly, extend defense into ’their world’ and your offensive warrants into ‘your world’.
You can split the speech into two halves, but you can also alternate between the two ‘worlds’, contrasting each team’s point of view on each of the crucial arguments.
Model 3: Voters
A voter is any reason the judge should vote for you: an argument you’ve won, a crucial argument your opponent has lost, a key piece of impact or evidence weighing, your framework, a dropped argument or even an incriminating crossfire answer.
Commonly you’ll hear three voters presented— 3 is a magical number, after all— or a 4th “tie-breaker voter” (it rarely is actually a tie breaker) added in afterwards, just for good measure.
Voters can be used with any of the Final Focus models, including a straight down-the-flow speech or Two Worlds. They can also be used as a structure all on their own, to focus the judges’ attention on your collapse, weighing and other key issues.
Model 4: Question-and-Answer
The question-and-answer model is my favorite. It’s the most effective, but perhaps also the most technical.
You break down your final, collapsed line of offense into 3-4 questions, that lead the judge through the link, impact, and weighing analysis that’s crucial to the ballot. We’ll answer each of these questions in turn to guide the judge with pinpoint accuracy towards our side.
Take an example resolution: “students should take a gardening class”— we’re Pro (of course), and collapsing to the line of offense that ‘gardening teaches food-cultivation skills that will help humanity to survive climate change.’
We might break down the offense into several questions, and answer them like so.
“Judge, there’s three questions you need to ask yourself today to cast a Pro ballot.
First, will gardening classes effectively translate to real-world food cultivation skills?
Yes. Our Jones 19 evidence clearly demonstrates the efficacy of these classes in more than 100 schools, and Thomas 20 shows the long-term effects that such skills have on farmer productivity. [extending our warrants]
Our opponent says there’s limits to land use— prefer our argument that even a tiny fraction of farmable land could have immense returns in terms of productivity [frontlining].
Second, will these skills be needed to survive climate change?
Once again, absolutely. Climate change has already thrown cultivation around the world into chaos, as droughts and rising temperatures threaten food systems that have lasted for millennia. Future changes will only accelerate the necessity for skills in cultivating food— our opponents ‘greening’ argument is localized, but Richter 21 shows global patterns of increasing famine. [extending uniqueness]
Last: do the benefits of food security for humanity outweigh the tiny economic effect of lost time to STEM fields? [weighing on opponents’ collapse]
The answer is a resounding yes. Food is a prerequisite for all human activity, for life itself— it must come before any economic impacts. We also win on magnitude and scope, as all humans face the increasing effects of food shortages, even those who never receive the STEM education that my opponent is arguing for.
But even if you don’t buy that, recall that a populous better-educated in food cultivation will pay for itself many times over, as innovation in food and farming accelerate rapidly after implementing gardening classes in school.
If you’ve answered these questions the same way as we have, you must vote Pro.”
As you see from this example, the model truly puts the focus in final focus.
These models can all work for Final Focus, and
Check out our Instagram post on Final Focus for the “secret” 5th Model!